David Norton, Executive Director, CISQ
Note: This blog first appeared on Dave's LinkedIn on September 18, 2019
I have been in DC this week speaking at the PSM Aligning Measurement with System Life Cycle Realities event, and the MITRE Software and Supply Chain Assurance Fall Forum. It’s always nice to spend time with people who are passionate about their work and want to make a difference for the warfighter and citizen.
A hot topic at both events was enterprise agile and DevOps. It is clear there is a lot of uncertainty on how federal and defense adoption of these approaches will play out at the policy level and with suppliers. I am not surprised by this as we have seen the same questions and issues in the private sector, especially banking, regarding costing and budgeting at the portfolio and enterprise level.
Take, for example, sizing and productivity. The need for an agency to have a clear understanding of what is being delivered by a supplier in a unit of measure that is consistent, fair, and allows cost analysis does not go away because we use agile.
The agile mantra, “the only unit of measure is the value we deliver to the end customer” can be a CLM (career limiting move). The mantra might have a lot of truth in it, but it does not help when it comes to vendor management and having to justify taxpayers’ dollars to an auditor.
Attendees at the PSM session reported they had been approached by suppliers who had claimed to have solved the agile productivity and sizing issue at scale. However, on closer inspection, found that it was some fudged story points method. Ether it had very little rigor behind it, or worse, forced over documentation of the backlog. (Full disclosure: I developed and published such an approach several years ago and regretted it to this day).
One individual I spoke to said it appears that suppliers are reinventing the sizing wheel and making it square, then they dropped the ‘F’ word – function points.
Now those of you who have read my post “Could A New ISO Standard and Old Foe Solve the Gordian Knot of Agile/DevOps Sizing and Estimation?” know I have a love-hate relationship with function point analysis.
However, I am fast coming to the conclusion that at some point in the near future, born out of necessity, we will see a sizing method with its roots in Functional Size Measurement (FSM) designed to work on an agile backlog.
CISQ has already spoken to a number of individuals and institutions who have taken FSM or parametric-based models and applied them to stories and epics across backlogs. And they have done it without the need for extra documentation or complex user stories.
Importantly, these approaches are automated, so not adding overhead to the product owner or team. As they are not working from the code, they can be used early in the SDLC, and used in a situation where we might be looking at SaaS or packaged software.
Because of the interest in this topic and the emerging sizing practices, CISQ will be looking at something we are calling “Shift-left automated sizing.” We hope this will lead to a new standard to act as a “lingua franca” between the backlog and current or new FSM methods.
But, and it’s a big but, solving the technical and practical issues of agile enterprise sizing will be for naught if it ends up as a stick to hit the teams with. So alongside developing a new sizing approach, we need to adopt new behaviors.
Take The Consortium for Information & Software Quality™ State of the Nation survey and help shape the new era of digital standards.